Jan. 17, 2009
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DeKALB - It was déjà vu all over again at the Convocation Center Saturday afternoon. After beating Western Michigan in overtime Wednesday night at the Convo, the Northern Illinois women's basketball was pushed to overtime against Eastern Michigan, defeating the Eagles, 69-62, on NIU Women's Basketball Alumnae Day. It's the first time in school history NIU has played in back-to-back overtime games.
"The kids worked hard," NIU head coach Carol Owens said. "It was a good team effort. Aileen Rossouw played some crucial minutes down the stretch and into overtime and really gave us a lift. Sarah Rogers played well in overtime, hit a big shot and played well on defense. I'm very proud all around, very pleased with how poised we were down the stretch."
The Huskies (8-9, 3-1) improved to 3-0 in overtime games, winning all three at home. NIU scored an 85-79 win over UIC, earlier this season at the Convocation Center. It's the first time since 1997-98 NIU has played three overtime games in a season.
Down 54-50 with 2:32 left to play, the Huskies NIU scored on back-to-back buckets by Shari' Welton (Calumet City, Ill./Thornwood) and Aileen Rossouw (Plano, Texas/Plano) to tie the game at 54 with 31 seconds left to play in regulation. Two defensive stands in the closing seconds of the game by Northern Illinois forced the game into an extra period.
Kylie York (Fishers, Ind./Hamilton Southeastern) started off the overtime with a three pointer in the corner. However, Eastern Michigan's (4-12, 0-4) Tavelyn James responded with a three of her own to tie the game up at 57. James finished as the game's leading scorer with 22 points. EMU's Cassie Schrock gave the Eagles a 59-57 lead with 3:32 left to play. It would prove to be their last of the game.
Northern Illinois responded to the EMU threat by going on a 10-0 run. The Huskies' Jessie Wilcox (Oshkosh, Wis./West) started the offensive outburst when she tied the game at 59 and a jumper from Sarah Rogers (Chicago, Ill./Marshall) gave NIU a 61-59 lead with 2:46 left to play. The rest of NIU's scoring in overtime came at the free throw line.
Rossouw hit a pair of free throws to extend the Huskies' advantage to 63-59 with 1:51 left in the game. Wilcox scored NIU's final six points, making six straight free throws and sealing the victory for the Huskies. NIU shot a perfect 100 percent in overtime, going 3-for-3 from the field, 1-for-1 from three-point territory and 8-for-8 from the free throw line.
As a team, NIU turned in a solid performance from the charity stripe, shooting 82.8 percent from the line for the game, going 24-for-29. Wilcox and Ebony Ellis (Joliet, Ill./Joliet Township) had perfect days from the free throw line. Wilcox went 8-of-8 and Ellis had her best free throw shooting performance of her career, going 5-of-5.
York led the way for NIU with 15 points, going 5-of-10 from the field, including 4-of-9 from beyond the arc. She was one of four Huskies to finish in double figures. Ellis, Rossouw and Wilcox each finished with 13 points each.
Another key stat for the Huskies was turnovers. NIU won that battle, 18-20. After turning the ball over 12 times in the first half, Northern Illinois adapted to Eastern Michigan's trap defense and committed just four turnovers in the second half and two in overtime.
"This was a huge win against a team that presses, traps and tries to disrupt you offensively," Owens said. "We only had 18 turnovers, when they usually force 20-25 a game. We talked about taking care of the ball, but [the trap] disrupts your offense. That's where Aileen came on, she presents a match up problem."
"I am extremely happy with this win," Owens said. "It's only fitting that it ended up in another overtime. This is a special day because we have people that contributed a lot to building this tradition, and that care a lot about this program here. We gave our alums a good game."
Earlier in the day, NIU Women's Basketball hosted its annual Alumnae Game. The Red team, led by NIU 1,000-point scorers Lisa Foss and Tammy Hinchee posted a 73-60 victory over the Black team. Hinchee scored a game-high 34 points, while Foss, NIU's all-time leading scorer added 25. Two other members of NIU's 1,000-point club, Stephanie Raymond and E.C. Hill led the way for the Black team. Raymond scored 26 points, while Hill finished in double digits with 20.
NIU closes out its three-game homestand Wednesday night when the Huskies welcome the Cardinals of Ball State to the Convocation Center. Tip off is set for 7 p.m. For tickets, contact the NIU ticket office at 815-752-6800 or log on to www.niuhuskies.com. Fans can follow all the action with Bill Baker on 1360 AM WLBK and via Gametracker at www.niuhuskies.com.